a very interesting thread. thank you to all. I have been able to see the point of view of GNU/Linux developers. Sometimes one forgets what ‘volunteerism’ really means, and the efforts that are expended and the sacrifises endured for the good of the ‘group’
Also, I do believe that gnu is very powerful on the desktop, and even the corporate desktop. When you get to specialised stuff, like Pat mentioned a very good video editing software, those gaps will be filled in with players like Adobe (which just joined the Linux Foundation some days ago). I do not know whether Adobe makes video editing software, but companies like it will be able to produce what is needed. The vision/spirit of GNU GPL and FLOSS will slowly wane as players like Microsoft release Public Licences approved as ‘free software’ by the OSI and FSF. They will dilute what it means to make libre software (not $0.00 software).
Oh and a side note – GNU was never about software without price. It was never what the ‘movement’ was about. Never. It was about making software that one could use in any way one felt, and modify in any way one felt. It was about people helping people. Yes, it could be seen as hobbyist, and is still seen in that way by many thousands of people. But a large proportion of FLOSS developers are making money writing the code (see more). Development of GNU tools for the server end of things (giant corporate servers) is highly funded, with billions invested annually. The ‘hobbyist’ point of view isn’t invalid, nor is it wrong. It can be perceived as helpful, beneficial, and supportive. Forums like these and other gnu/linux forums are full of newbies trying to get some help. And they do for the most part, because of the helpful community that runs things. Development is fast, secure, open, and admired by many in the professional software industries. Neat innovations come out daily, and it is one of the fastest growing ‘pockets’ in the Information Industry. ‘Open Source’ is so hip right now
Also, because software is developed by users for users (not in all cases i know) there is a trend that it is tailored to their needs, uses, and desires. Bugs are fixed quickly, and end-users can usually get into direct (Internet) contact with the makers of the software.
Relatively small projects (like pmagic) are not going to receive the sort of financial assistance required. Nor are they popular enough to warrant outside developers. Most people using it (i guess) are end-users, with little to no knowledge of programming. They will only be able to assist by praise (thank you) and providing [small] donations.
If Pat decides to end supporting pmagic many thousands will be upset. When he announced in Oct or Nov 2007 that pmagic would end, he received several hundreds of dollars in donations! A protest, if you will, so that he continue his development. He received more donations in that month, than [almost] all the previous months combined. That spurred him to go on – and he has. I think he enjoys it very much. That is where the ‘community’ aspect comes in.
Furthermore, Pat never had to re-write pieces of code such as compilers, booting programs, and other basic utilities to make his OS (pmagic). That stuff was already MADE! It was FLOSS and he could copy it, change it, use it, and redistribute it at no penalty to him or anybody! All developers are working on the same projects, indirectly. They work on the work of others, to contantly improve on the work done before. Never do they need to, as the saying goes, ‘re-invent the wheel.’
Yes — it sucks BIG BALLS when people rip off FLOSS. They download it, copy it to disc, sell it for $10-$100 and never give a cent back to developers. I hate that. I honestly think that the GNU GPL should not allow for commercial re-distribution unless that author/developer agrees in writing. No one should make money from someone else’s work and give nothing back.
But what the hell do I know – i’m just an end-user